I'm sitting at my computer aching in spots I didn't know existed. We shut one of our children's wear boutiques yesterday and have spent the last two days with my sister and brother in law stripping out the shop.
We did it much quicker than we thought we would and it was incredible that what took us years to get up and running could be demolished in under 48 hours. The hours labouring over projected financials, countless visits to France to meet and deal with our Franchisors, negotiating with the real estate agent for what we now know was a lousy deal and the many hours spent trying to grow the business was all gone in an instant. We were left with a big cavernous, dusty and very empty shell.
My sister asked as we breathed in the dust removing the flooring if had been an enourmous failure. I had to think about that one. It was a failure of sorts in that it didn't meet our expectations - but were our expectations flawed? It was a failure in that it didn't meet budget and led to a nasty falling out with our third partner. It was a failure in that we never quite met the needs of the clients in the area.
As a business in it's own right though, one might argue that it wasn't a failure. Like all new businesses they need time to "grow up". Two and a half years is possibly not long enough to establish itself. We also needed to "grow up" as managers and owners of a retail business. We now know a lot more about running a business and will use these skills to better manage our other shop in Port Melbourne.
The improving status of the Port Melbourne shop could be attributed to lessons learnt in Hawksburn. Without the shop in Hawksburn we wouldn't have had the chance to get the good retail site in Port Melbourne.
While we now find ourselves still hugely in debt I don't think our business venture in Hawksburn was a failure. It has strengthened my relationship with my sister (although at times it didn't feel that way), it brought out the best in our parents who also pitch in to help along with a plethora of other friends, it has allowed my sister and I to travel to France numerous times and it continually challenged us to think out side the square and operate very much out of our comfort zone.
So as we contemplate the next step I am optimistic and feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders with one less retail site to manage. My workload will be reduced and I hopefully won't find working part time as well as running the business as much of a chore. Maybe we might start enjoying it, and if some of that "love" can be injected into our business we might see it grow and meet some of our original expectations after all.